Category Archives: Calm Surrender

Karbala is Love


Earlier this week, a dear sister asked me how I felt when I went to Karbala. I thought long and hard. I have not had a chance to pen my thoughts since I returned from Karbala this January with a fantastic group of people, organized by Spiritual Journeys. More on the group later in another blog post. They definitely deserve a dedicated applause.

Back to the question. It is really hard to state the exact feelings because only when one actually goes there – is when one can truly appreciate the magnitude of this love and devotion. To put it simply, and for lack of a better analogy, it is like going to visit a loved one after many many years. You plan to ask so many questions, even complain for lack of contact but when you finally meet your loved one, time stops and you forget all your pain. All you remember is just how much you really love them and how much you have missed not being with them! Thats how I felt, when we walked by foot and entered the city of Karbala. As i stood in front of the majestic Roza of Imam Hussain, Labbaik Ya Hussain it was. I forgot all my petty worldly needs and tasks. All i wanted to do was to stand there, respectfully and with all my heart tell Imam Hussain how much I love him. And I could only hope he would believe me. Imam Hussain’s roza is kindness personified. Karbala is love. Najaf was grand and I was in awe most of the time as I had always wanted to go to Najaf. I never knew that it would be Karbala that would shake me to the core.

Gratitude is all I have, for Allah to make it so easy for me to visit the blessed land. I cannot wait to go back again! Labbaik Ya Hussain!

The Tao of Forty


On April 22 this year, I turn forty – a milestone I have been looking forward to since last year! I always thought of forty as just a number, well a far off number when you are just in your twenties. As you come face-to-face with the famous Forty, turns out, it is pretty much a school of thought and a state of being!

Being forty is so liberating. Forty is solemn about the days ahead, yet grateful for all life has thrown their way – lessons, challenges and success all inclusive!

Forty has answered many questions for me and as my favorite saying goes, it has given me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

However as I once read somewhere, being forty is also like being a Panini sandwich– you may be the juiciest, richest part but you are still stuck between generations! Your children are growing up fast (Mommy of a 15 and a 9 year old thank you very much) and you see your parents aging too. You are definitely in the thick of all of life’s happenings not to mention your career too. Best of luck is all I can say! You will be needing it, rest assured.

A Forty’s playlist may range from Air Supply and swings onto Ed Sheeran. Forty will rock a Sufi qawwali any day. Forty will never understand how in the world Chance the rapper earned the Grammy for his songs, but will be sporty enough to bear the songs for the sake of their teenagers. Patience is a virtue you finally rock at forty.

Forty is about cherishing friendships, and cutting out the riff-raff from one’s life. Forty says things in your face, and has no qualms in accepting the truth! Forty will remember fond details with perfect accuracy from childhood, but will struggle locating their cell phone which they actually put in their handbag two minutes ago.

Forty knows that as they tab browse their way through this ever-fast paced life – they must remember to juggle their balls and that it is okay to drop a few of them. As long as they keep juggling the glass balls, never mind a few rubber balls they miss.

The more I think about the Tao of Forty, the more I begin to love it. I am ready to embrace my Forties and already look forward to what is next. Forty is cool. Be like Forty!

Words that I write … 


Just read these beautiful lines from W.B. Yeats, January 1892.

All the words that I gather,

And all the words that I write,

Must spread out their wings untiring,

And never rest in their flight,

Till they come where your sad, sad heart is,

And sing to you in the night,

Beyond where the waters are moving,

Storm darkened or starry bright.

This is the wonder thats keeping the stars apart…


Recalling one of my favourite poems,

“I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart!”



Siam Reap, Cambodia. 2012.



Somewhere between doing Kumon homework with my boys and a recently acquired treadmill routine, I started recalling my favorite Rudyard Kipling poem. I could have googled it but recalling also meant recalling only my favorite lines from the very beautiful poem!

Sharing what I wrote down just now! This ofcourse is not the entire poem.


Reflect on thy soul…


Our soul requires constant nurturing and contemplation – it is like a plant that must be attended to, with love, care and utmost attention – to grow into a stronger and shady tree as the years pass.

On the day of the martyrdom of one of the noblest men of Islamic history – Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (AS) – the best tribute to him would be to learn and enrich your mind and soul from his wisdom and knowledge.  Today, I choose to write about his thoughts on Oppression. Oppression is exercising authority or power in an unjust and cruel manner.   In today’s world, if we look around, we find oppression everywhere! It is time to reflect on thy soul again…

According to Imam Ali’s words of wisdom, the first oppression a man can undertake is against his own soul! When a person would not undertake self-reflection! Self-reflection must also result in action, and it requires not just growth but constant nurturing.  There is a reference to ‘dry worship’ if one does not reflect on one’s deeds also.  Soul is pure – and must be kept away from the diseases of the soul! There is a reason why we were sent in this world – the entangled web of life – to maintain that fine balance between worship to Allah and the way we interact with His creations!

The second kind of oppression is the obvious one – towards another creation! Islam was about a society built on justice. Do we speak against the oppressor or are we worried about our reputation? Oppression in the form of oppressing people’s honour! While we have the day of judgement to wait for the ‘balance sheet’ of our deeds, it is the rights of the people that must be settled here!

Third oppression is the worst kind – of taking another’s life! When a human being is willing to take the life of another, it is a crime against mankind! Islam was never about killing others and honour killings – there is no honour in killing! Islam was, and will remain, a religion of peace. Somewhere in the dark corridors of history, we seem to have lost the true essence of this religion.

Moral of the story? Oppress the Oppressor and support the oppressed! As they say, in the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends!